No comment from Pakistan as Afghanistan says eight killed in airstrikes in Khost, Paktika provinces

Update No comment from Pakistan as Afghanistan says eight killed in airstrikes in Khost, Paktika provinces
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid speaks during a ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan on May 7, 2022. (AFP/File)
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Updated 18 March 2024
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No comment from Pakistan as Afghanistan says eight killed in airstrikes in Khost, Paktika provinces

No comment from Pakistan as Afghanistan says eight killed in airstrikes in Khost, Paktika provinces
  • Airstrikes come two days after seven Pakistani soldiers killed in bombing in northwestern region bordering Afghanistan
  • Rising attacks have damaged ties between Pakistan and Afghan Taliban, who deny Afghanistan soil used by militants

PESHAWAR: A spokesperson for Afghanistan’s Taliban government said on Monday Pakistan had carried out airstrikes in the country’s Khost and Paktika provinces early in the morning, killing five women and three children, with no immediate comment available from Pakistan’s military or government. 

The airstrikes, the sharpest escalation in already deteriorating ties between the neighbors, came two days after a suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden truck into a military post in northwest Pakistan, killing seven soldiers. The Pakistan army, defense minister and president vowed retaliation in separate statements. 

Pakistani government and security officials say militant attacks have risen in recent months, many of them claimed by the Pakistani Taliban (TTP). Islamabad says most assaults are launched from neighboring Afghan soil, an accusation that has damaged the relationship between Pakistan and the ruling Afghan Taliban, who deny they have allowed Afghan territory to be used by militants.

“Last night at around 3 o’clock in the Barmal district of Paktika province and in Afghan Dubai area of Sepera district of Khost province, Pakistani planes bombed the houses of civilians,” a spokesman for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Zabihullah Mujahid, wrote on X. 

“As a result, 6 people including 3 women and 3 children were martyred and a house destroyed in Paktika, as well as, two women were martyred due to the collapse of a house in Khost province.”

The Afghan government condemned the attacks and called them a “reckless” violation of Afghanistan’s sovereignty. 

“The people of Pakistan and the new government should stop some army generals from continuing their wrong policies … and spoiling the relationship between the two neighboring Muslim nations,” the statement added. 

“Pakistan should not blame Afghanistan for the lack of control, incompetence and problems in its own territory.”

The spokesman warned that the air strikes could have “bad consequences which will be out of Pakistan’s control.”

In a separate statement on social media platform X, Afghanistan’s defense ministry said its border forces had responded to Pakistan’s airstrikes. 

“In response to this aggression, the border forces of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan targeted Pakistan’s military centers along the fictitious line with heavy weapons,” the statement said. 

“The country’s defense and security forces are ready to respond to any aggressive actions and will defend their territorial integrity in any situation.”

Saturday’s attack on the military post was claimed by a newly formed militant group, Jaish-e-Fursan-e-Muhammad. However, Pakistani security officials believed the group mainly comprises members of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP, which often targets Pakistani soldiers and police. 

Pakistan Army’s media wing said security forces conducted an intelligence-based operation in the restive North Waziristan district on Sunday night in which eight “terrorists,” including a high-value commander Sehra Janan, were killed.

“He was involved in orchestrating the terrorist attack on security forces’ post in Mir Ali on 16 March and was highly wanted by the law enforcement agencies,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement on Monday. 

It added that sanitization operations are being conducted in the area to eliminate any other “terrorists.”

The Pakistani Taliban are a separate group but are allies of the Afghanistan Taliban, who seized power in Afghanistan in 2021 as the US and NATO troops were in the final stages of their pullout. The Taliban takeover in Afghanistan has emboldened TTP, Pakistan says, whose top leaders and fighters are hiding in Afghanistan.

“Terrorism is being conducted mostly from Afghanistan against us,” Pakistani defense minister Khawaja Asif told reporters in Pakistan’s eastern city of Sialkot on Sunday, saying militants were operating from sanctuaries in Afghanistan. 

“We have also raised this issue with Afghanistan.”

Pakistan’s new government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is faced with dealing with fraying ties with three of Pakistan’s four neighbors, India, Iran and Afghanistan.


18 killed in road accidents across Pakistan’s Punjab on first day of Eid 

18 killed in road accidents across Pakistan’s Punjab on first day of Eid 
Updated 43 sec ago
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18 killed in road accidents across Pakistan’s Punjab on first day of Eid 

18 killed in road accidents across Pakistan’s Punjab on first day of Eid 
  • Over 1,900 accidents reported across Punjab on first day of Eid Al-Adha, says Rescue 1122 service
  • Most accidents were reported in Lahore, where 418 people sustained injuries in 382 accidents

ISLAMABAD: Eighteen people were killed in various accidents across Pakistan’s most populous Punjab province during the first day of Eid Al-Adha, a rescue service confirmed on Tuesday. 

People from various parts of the country travel to their native cities and villages to meet family members during the Muslim festival of Eid Al-Adha. Road accidents in Pakistan, where traffic rules are rarely followed, are common especially during these holidays. 

“As many as 18 people died in different road accidents across the province on the first day of Eid Al-Adha,” the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) said. 

“According to Rescue 1122, the rescue team responded to 1903 accidents in Punjab on the first day of Eid and provided first aid treatment to 2089 people.”

As per the rescue service, most of the accidents were reported in the eastern city of Lahore, where 418 people sustained injuries in 382 different accidents. One hundred and twenty-five accidents were reported in Faisalabad, 120 in Multan, and 108 in Gujranwala cities on Monday. 

At least 173 incidents of fire were reported at scattered places in the province, the state-run media said. 

Thirty-three fire incidents were reported in Lahore on the first day of Eid Al-Adha. Fire incidents were also reported in Rawalpindi, Attock, and Faisalabad cities of Punjab.

“Rescue 1122 spokesperson Farooq Ahmed urged citizens to contact the department in case of any emergency,” APP said. 


Religious leader succumbs to gunshot wounds, three killed in northwest Pakistan over Eid holiday 

Religious leader succumbs to gunshot wounds, three killed in northwest Pakistan over Eid holiday 
Updated 18 June 2024
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Religious leader succumbs to gunshot wounds, three killed in northwest Pakistan over Eid holiday 

Religious leader succumbs to gunshot wounds, three killed in northwest Pakistan over Eid holiday 
  • Maulana Mirza Jan of Jamiat Ulama-e-Pakistan Fazl party was shot by unidentified gunmen last Thursday
  • North Waziristan’s district administrator confirmed three bodies were found in the Mir Ali area on Tuesday morning

PESHAWAR: The senior leader of a prominent religious party succumbed to his wounds while three others were found dead in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, officials confirmed a day after the Pakistani Taliban announced a temporary ceasefire with the federal government. 

Maulana Mirza Jan, the president of the Wana chapter of the Jamiat Ulama-e-Pakistan Fazl (JUI-F) party, was shot by unidentified persons last Thursday. A close aide of the JUI-F party’s chief Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman, Jan was receiving treatment at a hospital in Wana since then. 

Separately, North Waziristan’s district administrator confirmed three bodies were found in the Mir Ali area on Tuesday morning, adding that they had been killed by “unknown miscreants.”

“A strong voice of the tribal areas who also fought for them at every front, president of the JUI-F’s Wana chapter who was injured a few days earlier in a firing incident, Maulana Mirza Jan, has passed away after succumbing to his wounds,” the JUI-F said in a statement. 

Jan’s funeral prayers would be offered in Wana on Wednesday, June 19 at 09:00 a.m., the party added.

The development takes place a day after the Pakistani Taliban or the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) announced a three-day ceasefire with the government in Islamabad from June 17-19 for Eid Al-Adha. 

The Pakistani Taliban are a separate group but a close ally of the Afghan Taliban. They have been emboldened since the Afghan Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in 2021.

In recent months, the Pakistani Taliban have claimed a number of attacks and are suspected by officials in several others, mainly in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province that borders Afghanistan.

Pakistan has witnessed a spike in militant violence in its two western provinces, KP and Balochistan, since the Pakistani Taliban called off their fragile, months-long truce with the government in November 2022.

Pakistan says Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers are giving shelter to TTP fighters across the unruly border. The Afghan Taliban government insists it doesn’t allow anyone to use Afghan soil for violence in any country.


On Eid, Karachi’s Civil Lines neighborhood becomes hotspot for ‘premium’ animals 

On Eid, Karachi’s Civil Lines neighborhood becomes hotspot for ‘premium’ animals 
Updated 18 June 2024
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On Eid, Karachi’s Civil Lines neighborhood becomes hotspot for ‘premium’ animals 

On Eid, Karachi’s Civil Lines neighborhood becomes hotspot for ‘premium’ animals 
  • After months of record inflation, many Pakistanis will be struggling to afford animals at prices starting from around $350
  • But expensive animals whose price can go beyond $10,000 are the ultimate symbol of social prestige and generosity 

KARACHI: For most of the year, Karachi’s Civil Lines neighborhood remains serene, a peaceful urban retreat of high-rise residential apartments and markets. 

But as Eid Al-Adha approaches, the quiet streets start bustling with activity as makeshift stalls and tents pop up, each equipped with soft bedding, special lights and fans in the service of special guests – expensive or ‘premium’ sacrificial animals. 

The prized animals, whose price can range between $3,000 and $11,000, are mostly raised on cattle farms outside the city, and moved to the Civil Lines neighborhood in the weeks ahead of Eid, giving the area a festival-like atmosphere.

Many people in Pakistan like to buy expensive sacrificial animals on Eid, as purchasing larger or more premium animals is seen as a mark of prestige and generosity. The preference for costly animals is also influenced by the desire to fulfill the religious obligation with the best possible offering.

“There is no price for passion,” Muhammad Mustafa, a student at the Institute of Business Administration whose family is associated with the cattle business, told Arab News.

“Everyone performs this [ritual] according to their budget in my opinion, so the prices of animals in our area can go above Rs2 million [$7,180] or Rs3 million [$10,770].”

These prices are sharp for Pakistan, where after months of record inflation, many will be struggling to afford even regular sheep at prices starting from around $350. But the expensive animals are also the ultimate symbol of social prestige in a country where the GDP per capita does not exceed $1,600.

“FUNFAIR”

Karachi, a city of over 20 million people, hosts the country’s largest cattle market on its outskirts, where animals from across Pakistan are put up for sale, as well as 21 other smaller bazaars.

However, what sets Civil Lines apart from other neighborhoods is not just the availability of expensive animals but also the large number of people who raise high-value breeds on farmhouses.

Mustafa is one of those who strikes deals with cattle farmers in advance, providing them with a calf, which is raised for a year or two until it becomes eligible for sacrifice, a determination based on the count of its teeth— two or more.

“It has four teeth, so we raised it for almost two years. It grabs its proper strength, catches its life, catches its round shape, so it feels attached to the heart, so we people sacrifice it,” he said as he gestured toward his cow that neighbors and friends had come to call “Black Beauty” and which is valued at Rs1 million ($3,588).

Connoisseurs also hire caretakers to look after the animals and provide them with customized and specially prepared feed and shelter in waterproof tents equipped with fans, cushioning and special lighting. 

Various local and international breeds of animals can be found in Civil Lines, including Sahiwal, Australian and Sibi breeds, with visitors stopping to take selfies with the beautiful cows and goats. 

“It’s about half-past midnight, and people here descend with their families after 10 o’clock and also serve their animals,” said Maaz Liaquat Abdullah, who works in the construction business. “The whole place becomes a funfair,.”

Abdul Rauf Shivani, a banker, attributed the popularity of high-priced animals in Civil Lines to the community’s “deep pockets.”

“What people do is basically they try to bring in the animals for sacrifice and they also try to give comfort to animals and make sure that they are actually in a very safe area,” Shivani added.

And while adults in the area typically buy expensive cows, children often opt to raise goats. 

One such kid was Mohammad Yahya, 6, who said he had raised his male goat at a farmhouse in Mirpur Khas in Sindh and affectionately called him Chanchanu.

“He runs very fast, he doesn’t come under control,” Yahya said as he placed some grass in front of his goat.

Around him, children led their animals along the streets.

“Most of the population living here is from the Memon community,” said Abdullah, the construction business professional, “who have the love for animals in their genes, especially the love for sacrificial animals.”


Under-fire Babar Azam says PCB to take final decision on Pakistan captaincy 

Under-fire Babar Azam says PCB to take final decision on Pakistan captaincy 
Updated 18 June 2024
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Under-fire Babar Azam says PCB to take final decision on Pakistan captaincy 

Under-fire Babar Azam says PCB to take final decision on Pakistan captaincy 
  • Cricket analysts have called upon Azam to resign following Pakistan’s poor performance at World Cup
  • Pakistan failed to qualify for second round of T20 World Cup after losing to United States, arch-rivals India

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s under-fire skipper Babar Azam said this week that it was ultimately up to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to decide whether he should continue as the national squad’s captain or not, following his team’s dismal performance in the ongoing T20 World Cup. 

Cricket analysts and commentators have called on Azam to step down as skipper after Pakistan failed to qualify for the second round of the T20 World Cup 2024. 

The green shirts crashed out of the World Cup after consecutive losses to minnows United States and arch-rivals India. The United States and India ultimately ended up qualifying for the Super Eight stage of the tournament from Group A, with Pakistan notching victories only against Canada and Ireland. 

Speaking to reporters at a news conference on Monday, Azam said the PCB decided to appoint him captain after pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi’s brief stint as skipper ended this year. 

“When I go back, we will discuss all that has happened here. And if I have to leave the captaincy, I will announce it openly,” he said.

“I will not hide behind anything. Whatever happens will happen in the open. But for now, I have not thought about it. It is eventually PCB’s decision.”

Cricket commentators have blamed Azam for Pakistan’s failure to perform impressively at the mega tournament. Many have questioned his captaincy decisions while most have criticized him for choosing underperforming stars in the playing XI. 

“We win and lose as a team. You are pointing out that [I am] the captain, but I cannot play in every player’s place. There are 11 players, and each of them has a role,” Azam explained.

“That’s why they came here to play the World Cup. I think we have not been able to play well as a team. We have to settle down and accept that we didn’t play well as a team,” he added. 

Azam admitted that though the team performed well in patches, fans were right to be disappointed with them. 

“Everybody is disappointed. We are as disappointed as the fans. It is not one individual’s fault,” he said. 


Sacrifice of animals, festivities continue as Pakistan marks second day of Eid Al-Adha

Sacrifice of animals, festivities continue as Pakistan marks second day of Eid Al-Adha
Updated 18 June 2024
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Sacrifice of animals, festivities continue as Pakistan marks second day of Eid Al-Adha

Sacrifice of animals, festivities continue as Pakistan marks second day of Eid Al-Adha
  • People continue to visit relatives on second day of Eid as picnic spots see rush, says state media 
  • Pakistan’s prime minister exchanges Eid greetings with Kuwaiti counterpart, Kazakhstan president

ISLAMABAD: Muslims in Pakistan and other parts of the world on Tuesday continued sacrificing animals and taking part in festivities on the second day of Eid Al-Adha in their respective countries. 

One of the most important Islamic holidays, Eid Al-Adha is a joyous occasion on which food is a hallmark and during which devout Muslims buy and slaughter animals and share the meat with family, friends and the poor. The revered observance coincides with the final rites of the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

Pakistani Muslims celebrated the beginning of the Muslim festival on Monday with food and prayers for the people of Gaza and Kashmir. 

“Festivities and sacrifice of animals are continuing on the second day of Eid-Al-Adha today [Tuesday],” state broadcaster Radio Pakistan reported. 

“People will also continue to visit relatives and friends to celebrate Eid festivities and picnic spots are also witnessing unusual rush.”

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday exchanged Eid greetings with his counterpart from Kuwait, Sheikh Ahmad Abdullah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, and Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in a statement. 

“The leaders also exchanged views on enhancing bilateral cooperation in various fields, including trade, investment, energy, and export of skilled labor,” the PMO said about Sharif’s call with Al-Sabah. 

“They also discussed regional and global issues of mutual interest, reaffirming their commitment to working closely together for the advancement of shared goals and objectives.”

The Pakistan government has announced a three-day holiday for Eid, from Monday to Wednesday.

According to tanners associations, over six million animals valued at approximately Rs531 billion ($1.9 billion) were sacrificed during the three-day Eid festival in 2023. As many, if not more, animals are expected to be sacrificed this year.